LAWRENCE, T.E. (1888-1935). Two autograph letters signed ("T.E.L." and "(E.L.) J.M. Ross") to the artist William Roberts, London and n.p., 11 December 1922 and 16 February 1923. Together 2 pages, 4to, second letter with pale dampstain.
"William Roberts (1895-1980) was first put in touch with Lawrence in 1920 by Colin Gill, who knew that Lawrence was looking for more artists to work on illustrations to Seven Pillars. Roberts subsequently contributed several portraits and a large number of tailpiece drawings to the book. He also painted an oil portrait of Lawrence in 1922 at the sitter's own suggestion...writing of the principal illustrators to Seven Pillars, Lawrence said: 'John, Roberts and Kennington are three extraordinary draughtsmen. John so gracious, Roberts so powerful, Kennington so alive. Roberts first, I think, for pure line.' (Wilson/National Portrait Gallery, p. 226).
In the first letter, Lawrence praises Roberts on some of his recently completed work for Seven Pillars: "I saw the camels yesterday [presumably Camel-march]. The colour first delighted me: it's the most beautiful thing to look at: then I saw how excellent was the design: and the landscape is just what one would have wished (but hardly imagined anything so quiet as the lawn of uncrinkled sand): the whole thing is nearly marvellous: better than anything I thought possible...the technique of dress, shapes of camels, seats of rider etc. are as right as if you had worked them up on the spot."
In the second letter he writes about the sittings for the portraits of Winterton and Wingate and discusses his discharge from the R.A.F. "As for my losing the R.A.F.....I feel very sorry about it, & very lost now, not having a tender corporal to lead me by the hand. It was a jolly set of fellows, & we were a pleased family. I didn't join for the glory of the uniform! Most of the R.A.F. would accept your judgement upon it: but it's easy to look after, & comfortable, & so I had no quarrel with it. People of my odd shape would look funny in anything, you know..."
With regard to his financial situation and the completion of illustrations for Seven Pillars, he continues: "I can't imagine what is now going to happen to me. I'm living on what should have been picture-money, & something desperate must happen at once, or there will be no more drawing this year: and I do want to get the whole lot finished this year." (2)